Tarot Interactions, by Deborah Lipp. Llewellyn Publications, 2015. Paperback $16.99 Kindle $9.99
How many of us wished we had someone to tutor us when we first began learning to read tarot cards? I learned on my own with the massive help of Eden Gray’s classic text, The Complete Guide to the Tarot (Bantam Books). It was the only tarot book I could find in my home town in the late 1970s even after much searching and asking (plus dealing with weird looks!).
These days there is a wide variety of tarot books easily available and the task of choosing just 1 – 3 for a beginner can be quite daunting and overwhelming. As a tarot instructor myself I appreciate books that read like a course on tarot rather than start off with a dry (and often incorrect) “historical” overview of how the Tarot came from Atlantis, Egypt, or gypsies, then goes into a discussion of the symbolism and meaning of each card, and finally concludes with the classic Celtic Cross spread & perhaps a few others.
Tarot Interactions does not follow the conventional tarot book mold. In fact, it breaks it, and quite spectacularly. When it comes to tarot books I am very difficult to impress. I’ve been reading and studying tarot since 1976 and have basically read them all. Yet I always go back to Eden Gray, and another wonderful classic no one should be without, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, by Rachel Pollack (Weiser Books). I have been recommending these two books to my students for nearly 20 years. Now I can finally add a third, Tarot Interactions.
Tarot Interactions is quite different from the old formula we’re all accustomed to reading in a “how-to-read-tarot” book. What I really liked from the start is the personable method of writing Deborah Lipp has. As you read the book it sounds as though you’re sitting with her at your dining room table with a deck of tarot cards spread out before you. She is seated next to you sharing her method of reading the tarot while you sit there trying to soak it all up like a sponge. I love it when authors take the time to construct their writing style so that they are speaking WITH a reader as opposed to speaking AT a reader. Deborah Lipp is clearly well-informed about the Tarot, but she does not come across as a know-it-all. She comes across as a teacher who takes the reader by the hand in order to guide them through the material.
The title, Tarot Interactions, refers to how as readers we can relate to and use the Tarot. Furthermore, within a reading the cards interact with one another. Every two-card combination means something and also the meaning of a card changes based upon its position within a spread. In this manner the Tarot cards themselves also interact with each other. As a reader it is important to pick up on all of these nuances. Deborah Lipp explains how these interactions work and she offers a wide variety of exercises to take the reader through a learning process. Meanings of the cards are included, but she goes far beyond that and teaches through her book how the cards interact with each other and how meanings can change based upon a card’s position within a spread.
Meditation and keeping a journal are both encouraged, and I highly recommend at least keeping a journal as you work through this book. You will want to keep a record of the exercises you do and the results you get so as you work more with Tarot Interactions and time passes you can go back to check your progress. Meditation will help to open your psychic centers and heighten your intuition as well, so that is also a recommended practice while reading this book and beyond. Even as a seasoned reader myself I found the exercises to be useful. People who are new to Tarot will find the exercises not only useful but also great guideposts for their journey.
As I read Tarot Interactions I envisioned Deborah Lipp as a kindly teacher who only wishes for her students to understand the material at hand and is all too happy to share her own experiences with reading the cards. I wish this book had been written in the seventies when I was learning. It would have made my progress much easier.
I highly recommend this book to beginners, but seasoned readers will also find it to be quite useful as well.
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~ Nefer Khepri, PhD., R. M-T.
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